Biking is an incredible way to explore the beautiful west coast of the USA. Bikepacking, on the other hand, takes it to a whole new level. If you’re looking for an adventure of a lifetime, then bikepacking is the perfect way to experience the stunning landscapes, diverse cultures, and incredible wildlife that the west coast has to offer. In this article, we’ll provide you with everything you need to know to plan your next bikepacking trip on the west coast of the USA.

Bikepacking the West Coast of the USA is a popular adventure for cycling enthusiasts. It involves packing all the necessary gear on your bike and embarking on a journey through scenic routes along the coast. This type of trip allows riders to experience the natural beauty and diverse culture of the West Coast while challenging themselves physically and mentally. In this article, we will explore the essential details of bikepacking the West Coast of the USA and provide some tips to make your journey a memorable one.

The Basics of Bikepacking

What is Bikepacking?

Bikepacking is a combination of biking and backpacking. It’s a way of traveling long distances on a bike while carrying all the necessary gear needed for camping and survival. Unlike regular bike tours, bikepacking routes often take you through off-road trails and remote areas, where you’ll be completely immersed in nature.

What Do You Need for Bikepacking?

The gear you’ll need for bikepacking will depend on the duration of your trip, the terrain you’ll be riding on, and the weather conditions. Here are some essential items you should pack:

  • A bike that’s designed for off-road riding
  • A lightweight tent or bivy sack
  • Sleeping bag and sleeping pad
  • A hydration system or water bottles
  • A backpack or bike frame bag
  • A camping stove and fuel
  • Food and snacks
  • A headlamp or flashlight
  • a first aid kit
  • Repair kit and spare parts for your bike

How to Prepare for Bikepacking?

Bikepacking requires a lot of preparation, both physically and mentally. You’ll need to train your body to handle long hours of riding, carrying heavy loads, and sleeping in uncomfortable conditions. You’ll also need to plan your route, research the weather conditions, and make sure you have all the necessary permits and permissions for the areas you’ll be riding through.

The Best Bikepacking Routes on the West Coast

Key takeaway: Bikepacking is an exciting way to explore the stunning landscapes, varied cultures, and incredible wildlife that the west coast of the USA has to offer. With careful planning and preparation, adventurous riders can experience some of the most popular bikepacking routes, such as the Pacific Coast Route, The Great Divide Mountain Bike Route, and the Oregon Outback, testing their physical endurance while enjoying remote camping experiences and breathtaking views. While on such trips, it is important to respect the environment and the local people, and be well-equipped for emergencies.

The Pacific Coast Route

The Pacific Coast Route is one of the most popular bikepacking routes on the west coast. It stretches over 2,000 miles from Vancouver, Canada, to Tijuana, Mexico, and takes riders through some of the most beautiful coastal landscapes in North America. The route is accessible to riders of all levels, with plenty of camping options, bike shops, and restaurants along the way.

The Great Divide Mountain Bike Route

The Great Divide Mountain Bike Route is a challenging bikepacking route that takes riders through the Rocky Mountains, from Banff, Canada, to Antelope Wells, New Mexico, covering over 2,700 miles. The route is not for the faint-hearted, with steep climbs, rocky terrain, and unpredictable weather conditions. However, the stunning mountain landscapes, wildlife sightings, and remote camping experiences make it a favorite among bikepacking enthusiasts.

The Oregon Outback

The Oregon Outback is a 360-mile bikepacking route that takes riders through the heart of Oregon, from Klamath Falls to the Columbia River. The route is a mix of gravel roads, dirt trails, and paved roads, with stunning views of the Cascade Mountains, high desert landscapes, and rugged canyons. Riders will need to carry all the necessary gear for camping and survival, as there are limited services along the way.

Tips for a Successful Bikepacking Trip

Plan Your Route Carefully

Before embarking on a bikepacking trip, it’s essential to plan your route carefully. Research the terrain, weather conditions, and camping options along the way. Make sure you have all the necessary permits and permissions for the areas you’ll be riding through.

Pack Light

When bikepacking, every ounce of weight matters. Pack only the essentials and leave behind any unnecessary items. Invest in lightweight gear and use compression sacks to minimize the space your gear takes up.

Train Your Body

Bikepacking requires a lot of physical endurance. Start training your body a few months before your trip by riding long distances, carrying heavy loads, and practicing camping skills.

Be Prepared for Emergencies

Bikepacking can be unpredictable, and emergencies can happen. Make sure you have a first aid kit, a repair kit, and spare parts for your bike. Carry a satellite phone or a personal locator beacon in case of emergencies.

Respect the Environment and Locals

When bikepacking, it’s crucial to respect the environment and the locals. Leave no trace, camp only in designated areas, and pack out all your trash. Be respectful of the wildlife and the locals you encounter along the way.

FAQs – Bikepacking West Coast USA

What is bikepacking?

Bikepacking is a form of cycling where riders use specially-designed bicycles and lightweight camping gear to travel long distances, often on off-road terrain. Unlike traditional cycling trips, bikepacking often involves camping in remote areas where traditional vehicles cannot access.

How difficult is bikepacking on the West Coast of the USA?

Bikepacking on the West Coast of the USA can vary in difficulty depending on the route you choose. However, you can expect challenging climbs, varying weather conditions, and rough terrain on many bikepacking routes. The Pacific Coast Highway is a popular bikepacking route that can be both challenging and rewarding.

What gear do I need for bikepacking?

You will need essential gear such as a sturdy bike, lightweight camping gear, bike tools, and clothing appropriate for the weather conditions. Some additional gear to consider includes a water filtration system, first aid kit, portable stove, and bike lights. You want to pack lightweight gear that is versatile and essential for your trip.

How long should I plan for a bikepacking trip on the West Coast?

The length of your bikepacking trip will depend on the route you choose and your riding pace. Some bikepacking routes can be completed in just a few days where others may take a few weeks. Be sure to research the route you want to take and plan accordingly with food, water, and shelter in mind.

How can I prepare for a bikepacking trip?

To prepare for your bikepacking trip, you want to make sure you have the proper equipment and are familiar with how to use it. Additionally, you should be physically fit to handle long distances on rough terrain. It is also crucial to research the routes you want to take, have a plan in place, and practice camping and survival skills. Training your body and mind for the experience ahead will make for a much more enjoyable journey.

What are some popular bikepacking routes on the West Coast?

There are several bikepacking routes on the West Coast you can take based on your experience level and preferences. The Pacific Coast Highway, Oregon Coast Bike Route, TransAmerica Trail, and Great Divide Mountain Bike Route are popular options. Research and choose the route that best aligns with your skill level, distance preferences, and desired experience level.


By Frank

Frank Thompson, a seasoned cyclist and bike aficionado, has been passionate about all things bicycle-related since his childhood. Born and raised in the beautiful Seattle, Frank has spent countless hours exploring the winding trails, scenic roads, and vibrant urban landscapes on two wheels. With over 20 years of experience in the cycling world, Frank has garnered an extensive knowledge of bicycle mechanics, maintenance, and customization. After completing his degree in Mechanical Engineering, Frank pursued a career in the bicycle industry, working with renowned bike manufacturers and local bike shops. His expertise led him to become a sought-after consultant for professional cyclists, weekend warriors, and bike enthusiasts alike. Throughout the years, he has also volunteered with various cycling advocacy groups, promoting safe and accessible cycling infrastructure in the community. Frank's passion for cycling extends beyond his professional life, as he has participated in numerous local and international bike races and charity events. His love for adventure has taken him on several memorable cycling expeditions, from the breathtaking mountain trails of the Rockies to the picturesque coastal roads of the Mediterranean. As a valued contributor to West Seattle Cyclery, Frank shares his wealth of knowledge and experience with our readers through informative articles, how-to guides, and gear reviews. Always eager to help fellow cyclists, Frank is dedicated to making the world of cycling more approachable and enjoyable for everyone. When he's not busy tinkering with bikes or writing for the blog, you can find him exploring new routes, coaching beginner cyclists, or spending quality time with his family and their beloved golden retriever, Buddy.